Monday, August 27, 2012

Wow! What a week so far!

Seriously?  It's only MONDAY?

This morning I was going to a new dentist to fix a tooth that has "needed a root canal" for two years. Since it really doesn't hurt, I think it is safe to say I haven't made it a priority.  While getting ready to go to the new dentist, the crown put on within the last year by the old dentist felt very loose.  No problem I thought, I will just have the new lady tighten it.

Well when she went to examine the tooth, she pried a bit with that hook of hers and of course - it came completely off! But not just the crown - the post and all!  She said since the tooth was just worked on recently, the old dentist should really take care of this at no cost to me.  I liked the sound of that until I realized I couldn't get into my old doctor until Wednesday night and the new doctor felt that tooth was my "insurance priority" so she sent me home without tending to the other teeth that took me to the dentist today in the first place!

I hate dentists.  No - I hate the fact that my teeth require enough dentist visits that we end up on a first name basis. I wanted to change dentists only because the old dentist is so expensive and I still have dental work that needs to be completed. I have wanted to change dentists for a year and a half but I was afraid to "hurt the old dentists feelings".  Then one day I woke up and decided - she doesn't care if she hurts MY feelings when I remind her I can't afford $1500 out of my pocket for a crown because I am still not working and she replies, "OH! Well we can take payments or I can wait until the new year!" She said that in March. In the meantime, my teeth get worse, but the good news is that it only costs $500 to have a tooth pulled. 

If that wasn't frustrating enough, I spent 45 minutes talking to a job recruiter today.  Not a typical job recruiter, but one that provides career counseling and access to Executive decision makers from their database of 3 million businesses worldwide. My first question was "What will this cost me because - frankly - I am broke, I am unemployed."

What she said was, "We will get to that shortly." 

What I heard was, "So expensive we can't even talk about cost until we promise you a career transformation that will change your life forever."

The program sounds absolutely wonderful! But so does a week in Hawaii but I can't afford that either and the cost of Hawaii is probably cheaper!

When I told her that she said, "But Hawaii will not guarantee an opportunity to generate enough income to be able to afford several more trips to Hawaii." 

But her program will not necessarily guarantee me a high paying job either.

So it's back to Plan B - minus one tooth until Wednesday night.

Thursday, August 23, 2012


When I started this blog I had the intention of chronicling my adventures during my sabbatical.  I love being home and flexible, but the end of December is coming and unemployment runs out. The grant reviewing "season" is coming to a close and it seems like everyone and their brother and cousin is now reviewing grants so the competition is more intense.  I am beginning to panic a little. It's time to regroup and try a new approach.

Off the market

When a house is on the market for awhile and has not had many showings, Realtors will sometimes take it off the listings, remove the signs, and make some improvements.  Using that approach, I have decided to take myself off the market for a month or so, take some free online classes, and repackage myself. I have eliminated some of the "job alerts", unsubscribed from a few job boards, and taken my resume off of the big job network sites.

In the meantime, I am going to learn more about marketing, write blog articles, and market my grant writing business across the Midwest Region, focusing heavily within a 50 mile radius of my home.  It comes at a good time too because last week my Dad learned he has liver cancer.  It appears I will need to hang onto the flexibility a little longer.

New business idea?

I spent the day with my son, the father of my very special granddaughter, and he was talking about an idea he thought I should pursue.  I mentioned that I was very interested in finding out how I could purchase a historic building, contract out the rehab work, and use it as a childcare/preschool.  All the workers would be learning something in the process and I would rely on volunteers as much as possible.

Nate felt that a drop in center for children would be an awesome idea.  A learning environment where parents who just needed a break or had a flexible schedule and didn't require a regular caregiver could bring their kids and know they would receive quality childcare without burdening family members.

I decided to check into something like that.

Half-Marathon training

What???  Me????  Am I CRAZY???  Yes and no. 

I need a motivator to walk.  My husband and walking partner is experiencing the same issues with both of his knees that I had last year so he is not walking now.  I will use the treadmill but that is not the same.  I decided to train to participate in the Maui Half Marathon.

Why Maui and not closer to home?  Seriously - you really have to ask that? Let's see......Illinois?  Hawaii??? Where would YOU chose to take part in an event where you walk 10 miles within a certain amount of time for the first time?

I am choosing Maui and the Pacific Ocean. If that doesn't motivate me to keep walking and lose 60 pounds in the process, nothing will. I am looking for sponsors and I will take donations.  Come next spring, I will panhandle somewhere along my walking route.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Still looking for a job with benefits

This morning I counted the number of job boards I am registered on. The grand total was 26 and I am sure I have forgotten a few.  Plus, it doesn't count the job boards I quickly learned were not right for me and I canceled. The benefit of job boards is the ability to choose a position and receive daily email "alerts" for jobs in your specific area that you may be interested in applying for. The drawback is that I am not the only one looking for those positions so I am literally one of thousands of people applying for the same job. You diversify by registering for several because employers use different boards to solicit candidates.

I am also registered on the big job search websites like LinkedIn, Indeed, Career Builder, and Monster. I have uploaded my new and improved resume with a link to my professional portfolio blog and everything.  I should have several opportunities to secure interviews so I can sell myself.  Right?

True - if I want to accept and process money for an overseas company looking to expand software and consulting in America and Canada. This mornings email suggested I really didn't have to do much, I didn't need to know anything, and they would not ask for money upfront. They went on to explain that if I responded to their email they would have one of their managers give me a quick and competent call back to get more information from me.  All I had to do is process the orders for software and the money the buyers paid.

Who are they kidding?

I also get a lot of "offers" to "own my own insurance franchise" with the "ability to earn $100,000 in the first year alone!" Oh and by the way, there is no base pay to help pay your bills while you re growing your business.

Once I received an email from someone who couldn't even communicate professionally but they heard about me on Monster and think I am very qualified for the job. What was the job?  I read the email several times and I still don't know.

Today, I am removing my resume from Monster and Career Builder.  I don't think they will miss me. I would like to find a job with insurance benefits but in the meantime, I am looking into secondary insurance policies and marketing the work I know I can do proficiently, instead of trying to fit my skills into another employers job description, if that is even the real job description. It's hard to know for sure because I have had a few emails informing me that the job description on Career Builder, that I just took 45 minutes to apply for, is not really accurate.  One person even told me that the job title wasn't the same anymore!

I know my energies can be targeted in a better direction.  I need to focus on building off what I have started, developing new or fine tuning my writing and project management skills and go after those leads.

And find insurance from one of those people who have to start their own business.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

What I've learned

I supposed I have learned a lot of things over the past several months if I really think about it, but I know for sure these two things:

1) I do not enjoy even a little stress in my life. It has been wonderful to not have to balance a full time job with worrying about my sons, husband, parents, or any family members health. And it seems everybody is unhealthy right now. I also like knowing that if it is raining, I don't have to drive very far ~ if at all ~ which stresses me out since two of my three car accidents occured while it was raining. I can set my schedule however I need it to be and still earn a little bit of money.  A VERY little bit, which is stressful yes, but compared to what I was feeling when I was making a LOT more money ~ I think I am happier with less. 

2) The more I have to do, even if it is a stressful environment, the more I get done.  I was much more productive when I was first unemployed forced to retire early on sabattical.  Maybe because I wasn't sure when I would be going back to work so I wanted to "make hay while the sun shined" so they say. And given the fact that I had a lot ~ seriously folks, a LOT ~ of sorting and de-cluttering to do, it was easy to nurse my bad knee and still accomplish something. While my house is still cleaner overall than when I first started in May of 2011, (I can still see closet floors, there is still room on the shelves, AND my big desk with the huge drawers that hold waaaay too much stuff is still relatively EMPTY!)  I am sad to admit ~ I still have a long way to go, but I fear I am losing my motivation.

WHY?  Because looking for work is time consuming, depressing, and STRESSFUL.  Of the 40 or so applications I fill out online and send off EACH WEEK, I think I receive back 1 or 2 responses a MONTH.  If that many.  I decided to try a new approach.

I am developing a marketing package for my grant writing business, putting significant effort into trying to write grants for pay (as opposed to volunteer) while I become a little more selective with where I apply for jobs now. If you have time, check out my professional portfolio blog at and let everyone know I am looking for work and they would be wise to hire me.

I know that it really isn't a waste of time filling out all those online applications, but really ~ it is. And it is just a little too much stress.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

1st Annual Gramma Gaga's Sumer Camp for Little Girls named Avery

So sorry!!  I thought this had been posted already and then I realized I hadn't finished the post because I couldn't get the videos to upload.  I will post it now, and hope they loaded ok!

Remind me to shorten the name of this camp next year.  Here is a brief run down of the week that Avery spent with me while her Mommy and Daddy were in Hawaii.

Avery's Poppy, Gramma, Uncle Chris, Auntie Pennie, Mommy, and Daddy

From what we could tell from the pictures posted on Facebook ~ everybody had a beautiful time in paradise!

These are only two of the many pictures that were posted and this blog post is about the week I had with Avery
Auntie Michaela, Mommy, Daddy, Uncle Eric, Auntie Lisa, Uncle Chris, and Auntie Pennie

Playing with her computer in the screened room
Monday ~ Day 1

We started the day off quietly at home and then coming to Gaga's house.  We started off in the screened room where we colored pictures, practiced letters, and read books.  After spending a little time learning and singing, we went to play in the dirt! The Garden....

We collected and then counted rocks, bugs, and weeds. She also ate her first raw pea from the garden. She held it in her mouth for at least 15 minutes. I thought she would finally swallow the pea if I gave her a snack of gummy bears.

When I asked her if she would share with me, she offered me the pea that was in her mouth.

Garden pea in her mouth, garden dirt on her face

She is a very sharing little tot.

Tuesday  ~ Day 2

We spent the morning singing and dancing at home and trying to perfect the art of ponytail making.  I had three boys and while at times their hair got quite long, ponytails were not a part of our routine.  She was so patient with me.

It took me 4 attempts but we finally ended up with this....

Not bad at all!  For lunch she had chicken nuggets.  I think the girl will turn into a nugget.  She dressed up for lunch in her finest party dress and beads. She really LOVES chicken nuggets.....

Yes, that's right, she is kissing her chicken nugget.

I took a lot of pictures of Avery in her party dress.  She looked so cute! Even if her pigtails were beginning to fall out. Finally she said "Gagaaaaaaaa !!  Another picture????"

After lunch we read books and colored pictures.  It was a very hot day so the neighbors asked us if we would like to come over so Avery could swim with their son Braeden.  Shall I say, it was a SPLASH!

She loves swimming and splashing

Wednesday~ Day SIX  3 ......

........was by far the longest day in history. Avery was getting tired of me, and dare I say it? I was just plain tired worn out exhausted by 10am. By 8:30pm Avery was in bed ~ after hours of Gaga counting down until 9:00 ~ and deciding that since she had played really hard all week, 8:30 was bedtime ~ because Gaga said so.

But during the day, we did have a lot of fun too. But at bedtime we quietly sang songs IN her bed, and made finger shadows on the wall. This was the most precious part of that day, and not because it was bedtime, but because she is such a loving little spirit and she had finally talked me into laying down IN her bed, UNDER the blankets, and snuggling for a little while. (Even though Daddy specifically said, "Do not let her talk you into getting into bed with her and sleeping there - well technically I didn't sleep there so it was all good)

Thursday ~ Day 4
Sigh......only 2.5 days left until Mommy and Daddy come home. 

We did chores at Gaga's house.

I hope the video of Avery washing dishes works. It is my first attempt at uploading videos on here.

We also continued to learn about shapes and letters.

Friday ~ Day 5

Silly Day

Saturday ~ 6  

I so enjoyed my time with her.  We learned new songs, words, about new foods, and found new insects. I hope her Mommy and Daddy go away again next year but if not, maybe she can come to stay at my house for a few days.  Every child should have an opportunity to spend alone time with grandparents.

This had to be one of the highlights of the week.  Avery had been swimming with Braedon and suddenly, like all children, an argument broke out.  Watch ~ 

While she enjoyed herself with me, she was very happy to see her parents.  At first she was quiet, maybe because she, like I, knew that our special week had come to a close. After a little while however, she was talking her Daddy into playing their special game of "Git otta here!" when he tosses her onto the bed.

I used that as my cue to leave and she didn't even realize I was gone.

New part time job

Wow!  It just keeps getting longer between posts!  Is this what it will be like when I start working full time again?

Here are a few updates that might explain my lack of presence on this blog for the past few weeks.

Green Bay Packer 5K ~ I did it!  I finished in 57 minutes and I would post a picture but.......the camera couldn't find me.  I think because I am too short.  The good news however, is that I am encouraged now to do another 5K at the end of September.

Job ~I found out that I will be writing 8 blog articles per month for a marketing firm about retirement community living!  I am thrilled to have enough money from this to make my car payment every month!

Avery ~ Someone posted a picture and poem on Facebook that reminded her of Avery and me. I loved it so much, I thought I would put it on here.

Beautiful huh?  And so true........

New website blog ~ Since I am trying to find a job and nothing else seems to be working, I decided to create a new website/blog about me.  It is a website that highlights my career and accomplishments. The idea came when a friend who knew I was interested in writing emailed me and asked if I would help him out by writing a few blog articles. I referred him to my blog so he could get a feel for how I write. That helped me land that job, but it made me think, since I really only had this blog to use as an example of my writing style, I decided maybe I should have something else so that potential employers could see what I have done, work related writing examples, and read more about "Elizabeth the potential employee" and less about "Gramma Gaga". I am still refining many of the pages but it is almost done.  While I am not willing to permanently relocate (read the poem above) I would be willing to be a road warrior as long as I could spend one day per week with my grandchildren. Feel free to check it out at and don't be afraid to offer feedback or comments.  And of course, pass it along to anyone who is an employer, knows an employer, or might know of someone who might someday soon need an employee.